Strange how things work out, is it not? This is a theme in today’s film, Fools Rush In (1997). Yet, while glancing at the International Movie Database (IMDb) page for it, I noticed that Suzanne Snyder is in it. The previous night I watched Weird Science (1985), which also had her in it. Her roles in both were not starring roles, and that is the excuse I am giving for not immediately recognizing her in the 1997 production . . . even if I did see them in consecutive nights. Hey, I watch a lot of movies, okay? And it is not like she set the cinematic world on fire, either. Some of the more, er, dedicated movie buffs might remember Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)? For the rest of you, please do not bother with that last one. If the title does not convince you, just know that it is full of images best left unseen, and I have only been subjected to a few of them. Outside of these, she only had bit roles in a bunch of other productions, and she apparently has not been in anything since 2010. Anyway, on with the review Fools Rush In.
It is Christmas time in New York City and Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) strolls into Fools Rush In on his way to his company’s holiday party. He believes that he is about to be sent to Tokyo to oversee the construction of a club, but instead learns that they are sending him to Las Vegas. Also about to go to the land of casinos is Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek), a Mexican American who had been visiting her great-grandmother (Angelina Torres) in the land south of the border. Alex and Isabel meet one evening at a restaurant in Las Vegas, and their instant connection results in them having a one-night stand. Alex wakes up the next morning and Isabel is gone. A bit miffed, he nonetheless moves on with his life, and getting the Las Vegas site built. After a couple of months, while having a business meeting at his home with his partner Jeff (Jon Tenney) and the local woman in charge of liquor licensing, Isabel rings Alex’s doorbell. She has come with some surprising news: she is pregnant with his baby. It takes him a moment to recover from his initial shock, and he ditches his meeting in order to talk to Isabel further about the situation. The only she wants from him at first is for him to meet her family, which he agrees to do. They are a strict Catholic family, and though Isabel says she can “handle herself,” she at least wants them to meet the father of her baby. Her mom, Amalia (Anne Betancourt) is happy, but her protective father, Tomas (Tomas Milian), is ready to disown her. Either way, after this meeting is over, Isabel is intent on “breaking up” with Alex and raising the baby on her own. However, something about their interaction and the warmth he felt from the rest of their family convinced him to say that they should get married, which they do in one of those cheesy Las Vegas wedding chapels. Now they must start their lives together despite being near strangers. They each give it their best, though there are aspects of Alex’s life that he is not yet prepared to share with Isabel. One of them is his parents, Richard (John Bennet Perry) and Nan (Jill Clayburgh). Alex does not initially tell his parents about Isabel, and they find out from the woman they want him to marry, Cathy Stewart (Suzanne Snyder). Though Isabel is initially hurt, particularly because he told her they were vacationing in Europe, the Whitmans eventually meet the Fuentes. The dads agree that their children are acting in the title way, and this unites Alex and Isabel for a time. The next hurdle is where they are going to live permanently. Isabel wants to be close to her family in Las Vegas, and her work as a photographer, but Alex is from New York and that is where his job is headquartered. Over some hotdogs she has flown in from his favorite spot back home, she compromises, saying as long as they can stay in Nevada until the baby is born, she will move to the Big Apple. Unfortunately, his company wants him to come back sooner to start a project in the city, and he does not have the heart to tell her right away. Instead, she discovers this information when his boss informs them at the grand opening of the Las Vegas site that he will see them in New York in a few weeks. Feeling betrayed, Isabel leaves without saying goodbye, and sends divorce papers to New York. After seeing a bunch of signs that things may not be entirely over with her, Alex decides to track her down and make one last apology. He misses her in Mexico, but knows that she will be traveling over the Hoover Dam on her way back. That is where he stops her. Complicating things at that moment, though, is her going into labor. In this struggle, she decides she still loves him, and they get married once more, but this time in the more picturesque surroundings of the Grand Canyon.
I had seen Fools Rush In before, but had forgotten most of it. Whatever the case, it made less of an impression on me when I was younger than it did in my most recent viewing. Three quarters of the way through it, I realized that it is one of the more Catholic films I have seen, although I am guessing that is entirely unintentional. It did not get off to the best start in this regard. Isabel and Alex’s transgression is explained away by her when she says that it is not something she would typically do. To be clear, Catholicism teaches that premarital sex is a sin, and I have covered this in other reviews. The sad part, though, is the enormous pressure people put on themselves when they reflect on such an action. While this is by no means saying to do away with abstinence, people forget that God still loves us despite our sins. Not remembering this fact, in my experience, tends to lead to further sin. And when that person looks back on all they have done, they feel so far from God as to not bother even trying to reconcile. That is a tragedy. Luckily, Alex does the honorable thing and marries Isabel. Still, that is not his first reaction. When she reveals her pregnancy to him, she tells him that she will “take care of it.” Unfortunately, he believes this means that she will be getting an abortion, and the palpable sense of relief he displays is the worst part of the film.
The best part of Fools Rush In is seeing how Catholicism is something that the Fuentes family lives. There are a couple of scenes where Isabel and her mother, or Amalia by herself, are in the church, lighting candles, and praying for their needs. Candles have been a part of Christian prayer from the beginning, signifying light in a dark world and being vigilant with your requests to God. Isabel also is insistent on having a Crucifix in their home, saying that it will help protect them. I have one in my own room, and it hangs above me as I type this review. I also adore Isabel’s great-grandmother’s reminder that divorce is not a part of her Faith or culture. Beyond these, the best example of Catholic spirituality is in how Isabel sees signs. When her and Alex first meet, she explains that our fates are already decided, which is not entirely catechetically correct, but one can say that it works in how God knows everything we are going to do before we do it. I will leave you to research for yourself the centuries of philosophical debate this concept has generated. Isabel goes on to explain that the trick in understanding your place in God’s grand design is being able to read the signs. Now, Alex’s attraction to Isabel in this moment is purely physical, but if I just met a woman and she were talking about these ideas, I would be tempted to propose on the spot! I am kidding, of course. Isabel delves further into this notion when she says that understanding how God sends us these signs at times of need, and they are explanations beyond reason and logic. This is difficult for Alex to understand until God starts beating him over the head with them towards the end. While they may not have had the most Catholic beginning, or (technically) second marriage at the end (an official Catholic wedding always takes place in a church), much of what they say and do jives with my Faith.
To repeat, despite a few quite non-Catholic parts, Fools Rush In is so Catholic that you would think it was written by a member of the clergy. The stuff that does not connect with the Faith you could write off as them trying to be “hip.” But, no, it was written by two women with no obvious connection to Catholicism. One, Joan Taylor, was a dancer and appeared in a few minor productions, most notably episodes of an old 1950s Western television show called The Rifleman. The other, the one credited for the screenplay, is Katherine Reback. The only other things listed for her on IMDb are an episode of One Day at a Time and a made-for-tv movie called The Line (1987). Go figure. Regardless, Fools Rush In is a cute story with a good message that is worth your time.